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Vitter Needs Only 10 Hours In Iraq To Declare ‘The Surge Is Working Very, Very Well'

Think Progress | August 24, 2007

Yesterday, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) returned from a brief trip to Iraq, proclaiming that they saw “ clear success ” on the ground. But their definitive claims of witnessing success were seriously undermined by their traveling partner, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), who admitted to reporters that the senators had only spent 10-14 hours in total in Iraq .

Now Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the fourth member of the delegation, is taking his turn at making sweeping pronouncements of success in Iraq while downplaying the superficial nature of his trip:


Vitter said the surge is working.

The United States has made significant strikes against Al Qaida terrorist forces and reduced sectarian violence in the nation, he said.

Vitter said he met with the chief military commander in Iraq, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, for about 90 minutes.

“ My bottom line conclusion is that the surge is working very, very well ,” said Vitter, who returned to the U.S. late Tuesday night.

Vitter, who was recently embarrassed in a prostitution scandal , is hoping that “the trip will help him play a more hands-on role in the upcoming Senate debate” over Iraq. “It was very, very helpful to see things on the ground,” he said.

He is also seemingly hoping that the publicity for the trip will help redeem his presently tattered image, as evidenced by his unusual pre-trip media blitz. Despite a request by the military that the trip not be announced until it was over, Vitter “sent an announcement to his home state media late last week”:

Voinovich, who headed for a Florida vacation today, announced the Iraq trip through his office, but only when he was leaving Baghdad late yesterday. The whole thing was characterized by his staff as extremely hush-hush until wheels-up.

Why, then, was his Louisiana colleague shouting it from the rooftops in advance?

Vitter, in fact, sent an announcement to his home state media late last week. In a statement that ran in Louisiana newspapers over the weekend, Vitter said: “With an upcoming congressional debate in September over the impact of the surge, I believe it is vitally important to see the situation firsthand. Our policy should be formed by the real general and soldiers on the ground, not the politicians - arm chair generals - in Washington.”

Vitter included the identities of the other travelers, including Ohio's senior senator.

As former Washington Post Baghdad correspondent Jonathan Finer has noted , “those who pass quickly through the war zone should stop ascribing their epiphanies to what are largely ceremonial visits.”

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